Reconciling myself to this papacy.



I found two things particularly valuable and consoling last week.

The first, as I noted here, was a summary of the current situation regarding Amoris Laetitia from Father Raymond J. de Souza in the National Catholic Register.

It feels very unnatural to me to be at odds with a pope and I doubt myself and pray about it constantly. yet I cannot shake the feeling that there is something fundamentally at odds with the faith in this. Seeing the events threaded together in de Souza's article reaffirmed my concerns, and therefore my determination to stay true to my faith, and not a false, damaging interpretation of it.

Why am I bothered? Why does it matter? Because being Catholic is at the centre of my life. It is the defining characteristic of my home and family, and when Church teaching is attacked, my family and I are attacked in a most direct way.

Fr de Souza catalogues the key events in the Amoris Laetitia debacle:
  • The posturing of the German Church since the 70's, lead by Cardinal Kasper, in an attempt to modify the pastoral practice of the Church.
  • Pope Francis' consistent promotion of Cardinal Kasper.
  • Pope Francis' displeasure at the outcome of the synod process.
  • The rushed publication of an overly long & complex document.
  • The startling omission of Veritas Splendor.
  • The fact that, over the Summer, the German bishops said that those in “irregular” situations could approach the sacraments. The Polish bishops said they couldn’t. The Vatican did not step in to clarify. 
  • The Buenos Aires guidelines & the Pope's speedy affirmation of such.
  • The dubia & the Pope's refusal to respond to them.
  • The fact that the dubia asked for clarity about a document that was deliberately written to be ambiguous.
  • The utter silence in defence of the document:
The usual voices that one might expect to further explicate the argument of Amoris Laetitia have not done so. The congregations for the faith and for liturgy — most relevant to the doctrinal and sacramental questions involved — have not offered a word in support of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia.
  • Antonio Spadaro's social media attacks on critics of the document.
I then read this interview with Bishop Schneider which is not actually about Amoris Laetitia but about his appeals to the head of the SSPX to be fully reconciled to Rome. 

The group, whose position with regard to schism is somewhat ambiguous (see here), hold that Vatican II is a non-authoratative council of the Church. Archbishop Lefebvre, the founder of the society, insisted that he respected and honoured the Holy Father, and that he was only continuing an unbroken Catholic tradition: he loved the Tridentine Rite of the Mass and knew from experience how beneficial, even crucial, it was in forming holy priests. After all, the immemorial Roman Mass had never been suppressed, even though the Novus Ordo Missae had been introduced.

Archbishop Lefebvre, after repeated but ultimately unfruitful negotiations with Rome, decided in 1988 to consecrate four new bishops to serve the SSPX and its faithful. In response, the pope issued a declaration of excommunication to the archbishop and these four new bishops. This greatly saddened the archbishop, but he firmly believed that he could not in good conscience have acted otherwise and was bound to provide for the preservation of the SSPX and its worldwide apostolate. Archbishop Lefebvre died just three years later on March 25, 1991. The excommunication was remitted in 2009 (see here).

The SSPX are faithful to the Tradition and teaching of Holy Mother Church, therefore as one might imagine, they are not fans of the imprecise & verbose Amoris Laetitia. However, they are not sede vacantist (they do not believe, as some do, that the present pope is an invalid incumbent). The society's relationship with Rome is addressed by it's Superior General, Bishop Fellay in this interview:




In this context then, Bishop Schneider says the following:
“If you remain canonically autonomous for too long, you run the risk of losing a characteristic of the Catholic Church, that is, to be subject to the pope”
“We cannot make our subjection to the Vicar of Christ dependent upon the person of the pope; this would not be faith. You cannot say that “I don’t believe in this pope, I don’t submit, I am going to wait until one comes along that I like.” This is not Catholic, it is not supernatural; it is human. It is a lack of supernaturality and trust in Divine Providence, that God is the one who guides the Church. This is a danger for the SSPX”
The SSPX has over 600 priests and close to half a million faithful spread throughout the world so its' contribution is not inconsiderable.
These comments of Bishop Schneider really heartened me and helped me to understand the role of the Holy Father. As someone who grew up with Pope St. John Paul II and then Pope Benedict XVI, I am probably guilty of popolatry in that I have held on to every word the pope's have said and pondered it. I read documents from the Vatican and take them seriously. But I have been largely baffled by Pope Francis and his writings and though I have tried to defend him here and in person, I've just reached a point where I'm feeling a bit lost with it all. I want to be faithful to Christ and His Church and when the Pope seems to be saying all kinds of confusing and inappropriate things I find myself, like many others I know, hurt and confused. I do believe and hold to the dogmas of the Church regarding the sacred office of the Holy Father:

1) That it was divinely founded:
Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven." (Mt. 16:18-9)

2) That the Bishop of Rome has a primacy no other bishop has:
We point to the tradition of that very great and very ancient and universally known Church, which was founded and established at Rome, by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul: we point I say, to the tradition which this Church has from the Apostles, and to her faith proclaimed to men which comes down to our time through the succession of her bishops, and so we put to shame... all who assemble in unauthorized meetings. For with this Church, because of its superior authority, every Church must agree—that is the faithful everywhere—in communion with which Church the tradition of the Apostles has been always preserved by those who are everywhere." (St. Irenaeus,Against the Heresies, III, 3:2)

3) That the pope is infallible under certain conditions:
The Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra—that is, when in the exercise of his office as pastor and teacher of all Christians he defines, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the whole Church—is, by reason of the Divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer wished His Church to be endowed in defining doctrines of faith and morals; and consequently that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of their own nature and not by reason of the Church’s consent." (First Vatican Council, Denzinger §1839)

However, history is replete with examples of popes who taught or did things which were not proper. As an example, Pope Liberius signed some form of a semi-Arian document, and Pope John XXII temporarily taught that the souls of the saved do not see God until after the Final Judgment. Some Renaissance popes led lives of dubious morality. In all these cases, though wrong, papal infallibility was not involved.

The pope is infallible primarily in matters of faith and morals, and secondarily in matters of discipline (legislation for the Universal Church, canonisations, etc.) to the extent that these involve faith and morals, and then only when imposing for all time a definitive teaching. Indeed, if the pope had some form of personal infallibility with regard to his ordinary teaching, there would be no need for a definition of its limits.

Given this, what are we to do? What am I to do?

First, it must be understood that it is a duty and necessity to pray for the Holy Father and his intentions. As St. Clement Mary Hofbauer says: “A Christian who does not pray for the pope is like a child who does not pray for his father.” It is not for us to judge his culpability in the destruction of the Church. Only God can so judge him. Nor is it for us to judge him juridically—the pope has no superior on earth—or to declare unquestionably null all his acts. We must thus make a judgement of his words and actions inasmuch as they affect our eternal salvation, as our Savior said:

Beware of false prophets who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them." (Mt. 7:15)

We are not to co-operate blindly in the destruction of the Church by tolerating the implementation of a new religion or by not doing what we can to defend the Catholic Faith. As Archbishop Lefebvre put it:
No authority, not even the highest in the hierarchy, can compel us to abandon or to diminish our Catholic Faith, so clearly expressed and professed by the Church’s Magisterium for 19 centuries.
“Friends,” said St. Paul, “though it were we ourselves, though it were an angel from heaven that should preach to you a gospel other than the gospel we have preached to you, a curse upon him.” (Gal. 1:8).
I will continue to be faithful to the faith as it was taught by the Apostles, not to rush to judgement, but to use my God given intellect to discern in prayer, what God is calling me to do. I do not believe it would be just to condone or to be silent about what is going on under the current papacy.

The Remnant seem increasingly on the ball:





Comments

  1. Mark.I am baffled by Francis every day and i feel that Rome,and the Papacy ,are under the influence of Satan at this time.This will not last long for Our Blessed Lady will crush the head of the Snake and our Church will be restored in due time.Francis never,i repeat never,will overthrow The Church even though his actions,thoughts and intentions appear otherwise.He will not be allowed to injure Holy Mother Church.

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